December 2, 2015

The AKP, the Holocaust, and the Hizmet movement

İhsan Yılmaz

The website summarizes the tragic event known as the Holocaust as follows:
“The Holocaust was a unique event in 20th century history. It evolved slowly between 1933 and 1945. It began with discrimination; then the Jews were separated from their communities and persecuted; and finally they were treated as less than human beings and murdered. During the Second World War, the Nazis sought to murder the entire Jewish population of Europe and to destroy its culture. In 1941 there were about 11 million Jews living in Europe; by May 1945 the Nazis had murdered six million of them. One-and-a-half million of these were children. Whilst the Jews of Europe were the Nazis' primary target, many millions of other people were also imprisoned, enslaved and murdered. These people included Roma, those with mental or physical disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, trade unionists, political opponents, Poles and Soviet prisoners of war. The Nazis did not act alone. They were supported and assisted by people from within the countries they occupied across Europe. Most countries stood by while the Nazis and their accomplices carried out the mass murder of the Jewish people.”
Six million innocent Jews that were brutally and monstrously murdered just because they were Jewish. The Nazis hated them because these Jews were well integrated into wider German society and were successful. The Nazis stigmatized them as viruses that were harming the body. Unfortunately -- either because of fear from the Nazis, or because of the anti-Semitic, fabricated conspiracy theories that had been circulating for centuries -- millions of people had either helped the Nazis or they had kept silent. Many more eagerly looted and confiscated the goods and properties of their Jewish neighbors.

I do not want to disrespect the noble memory of the Holocaust victims by likening their terrible fate to what is happening nowadays to the Hizmet Movement volunteers in Turkey. The Holocaust is not, and cannot be, comparable with any human suffering on earth. It is unique. Nevertheless, I argue that human nature has always essentially been the same and evil humans have always acted in similar ways. The motivations, argumentations, tactics and actions of today's cruel humans are not very much different from the Nazis. It is true that what Hizmet volunteers have suffered so far is not even one millionth of what the innocent Jews suffered. But if the evil people in Turkey can find it necessary to eradicate the movement and if they can find the opportunity, they will not hesitate to follow the footsteps of the Nazis. Let me explain.

First of all, unfortunately, Turkish socio-political culture is not immune from the sickness of trying to destroy the other. Especially when it comes to political dissent, the states on these lands have acted swiftly and brutally. Ottoman history is full of such terrible examples of crushing dissent by brute force, the Alevis being the main sufferers. What the secular-nationalist Young Turks did to the Armenians in 1915 speaks for itself. While hundreds of thousands of Armenian men, women and children lost their lives, their Kurdish and Turkish neighbors were either “buying” their goods and properties for very cheap prices or they were looting them. The many heroic Kurds and Turks (officials and civilians) who helped the Armenians were not treated well by the rulers. The Greeks also had similar problems. During the night of September 6-7, 1955, their goods and properties were looted as a result of a government-motivated pogrom. While some Alevi intellectuals were being burned, most probably by the deep state, at a hotel in Madimak in the early 1990s, thousands of Sunni civilians were watching the fire without feeling anything, to say the least.

Nowadays, the AKP's propaganda machine propagates that Hizmet volunteers are traitors and infidels. According to a poll that the İstanbul Institute conducted, 40 percent of people believe the Hizmet is made up of infidels. Many more see the movement as a puppet of the West. Pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) figure Hayrettin Karaman issued a terrible fatwa about two years ago that, for the sake of protecting the state civilians and religious groups, should be terminated. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stated that for the state, even the offspring of Hizmet volunteers should be sacrificed. Many pro-AKP figures in social media keep writing that the lives, properties and wives of the Hizmet volunteers are “halal” (permissible to be confiscated) by the Caliph, i.e. Erdoğan.

We are of course not at that stage, thanks to external and domestic factors. Yet, the AKP regime started imprisoning Hizmet volunteers just because they donated money to Hizmet associations. The AKP has also been confiscating properties of Hizmet businessmen. So far, similar to the Holocaust, very few people in Turkey and abroad have vehemently objected to this and many more have been silently watching, thanks to the anti-Hizmet propaganda that they have been listening to for decades.

Published on Today's Zaman, 2 December 2015, Wednesday